Do Mesh Systems Slow Down Wi-Fi? (We Checked)

Working and learning from home has never been more prevalent. And as a direct result, home internet networks have never been more congested.

A few years back, it was normal for a home network to handle casual browsing, a bit of streaming here, some gaming there, and it handled this just fine. But now more and more people are relying on their home network for remote work and learning.

Enter Mesh Systems, an up-and-coming alternative to Wi-Fi extenders that help you spread the signal across your entire home and speed it up beside.

In this article, we will look at if these systems are slowing down internet speeds. 

Here’s How Mesh Systems Affect Your Internet Speed:

If your Mesh System works properly, you should actually get faster speeds than most traditional routers. So the way a correctly-functioning Mesh System affects your speed is by amplifying it considerably. However, a malfunctioning Mesh System could instead be giving you slower speeds than usual.

Mesh system vs traditional wi-fi

Alternately, the system may be working fine, and it’s your ISP connection itself that’s just inherently slow. Remember that the Mesh System isn’t magic, and can only work with what you give it. If you give it a slow wired internet connection, it can only do so much to boost it.

How Come my Wi-Fi Is Slower When Using Mesh Systems?

There are a number of plausible explanations for why you could be experiencing slower speeds while using a Mesh System, but we would caution against blaming the system itself right off the bat.

Remember that Mesh Systems are an alternative way to provide you with Wi-Fi. The Mesh System can’t “slow down” your Wi-Fi, because the Mesh System IS your Wi-Fi. You wouldn’t ask “Why is my router slowing down my Wi-Fi?” because the router is what provides it in the first place; the same is true for Mesh Systems.

That being said, we mentioned possible explanations for why you could be getting slower speeds, so let’s take a look at the most common causes:

  • You’re trying to use your Mesh System and a traditional Router at the same time; Mesh Systems are designed to replace routers, not work alongside them.
  • Your ISP is just giving you terrible internet speeds; your Mesh System is working fine, it’s just giving you the same slow speed it’s receiving from the modem.
  • Your Mesh System is rated for a lower maximum speed than you want; you’re getting the speed you’re “supposed” to, it’s just not what you were hoping for.
  • Your Mesh System is Congested; too much traffic from too many devices at once can slow down the network.
  • The final possibility: your Mesh System is faulty and needs replacement or more advanced troubleshooting.

As you can see, while it’s certainly possible your Mesh System itself is the problem, that’s only one possibility in a long list of things that could be causing your slow-down.

To better determine where the fault lies, and how to fix it, keep reading for a troubleshooting guide in a couple of sections.

Read this article about does Google Nest slow down wi-fi?

Can Using Mesh Systems Directly Affect my Wi-Fi Speed?

Yes, Mesh Systems directly impact your Wi-Fi speed by improving it! That is exactly what they were made to do, after all, in addition to providing better coverage over your home.

As we’ve covered so far, if you’re getting slower speeds on the Mesh System, then said system probably isn’t working correctly or is working fine but doing the best it can with the weak signal you give it.

Mesh Systems are a relatively new technology compared to the still-ubiquitous traditional Wi-Fi router.

As such, problems are to be expected, as any new tech will be riddled with issues that get slowly ironed out as more people use it and more development is done.

That said, Airplay can slow down Wi-Fi, so be aware of that.

How Do I Check if it Interferes with My Wi-Fi Connection?

Your Mesh System cannot interfere with your Wi-Fi connection, because it’s the thing providing it. It can, however, fail to provide Wi-Fi at the speeds and quality you desire.

In order to check if your Mesh System is the culprit behind your slow Wi-Fi, or if it’s something else, we’re going to need to check what speeds you’re “supposed” to get in the first place.

This means two things: what speed are you getting from your ISP, and secondly, what is the maximum speed your Mesh System is rated for? Whichever is smaller is what you’ll be getting if your systems are working correctly.

With this in mind, to figure out if your Mesh System is working properly, and to rule out other possible explanations for your loss of speed, run through this step-by-step troubleshooting list:

  • Make sure your original Router is not in use. Mesh Systems are designed to replace, not work alongside, a standard Wi-Fi router, you should not be using both at once.
  • Reboot the Mesh system by turning all of the nodes off, then turning them back on, slowly, one at a time, giving each node a minute or two to connect to the others.
  • Disable your VPN or Proxy if you’re using one, just to rule it out. While it’s probably not the culprit, if your VPN or Proxy isn’t running properly, it could affect your speed.
  • Check if local traffic is affected: try passing some files around between devices on the network. If it goes fast, the Mesh is probably fine and you just have slow internet, period.
  • Disconnect your Mesh System and plug a device into the modem it uses via Ethernet Cable. Run a speed test on this device.
  • Check the packaging or manufacturer website for the Mesh System you purchased, and find out its theoretical top speed.

Okay, if you’ve made it to the end of the list, let’s talk about results, and what they mean.

If your Mesh System started working better after the reboot in step 2, then it probably just needed to be turned off and on again, the oldest troubleshooting trick in the book!

If speeds improved after disabling your VPN and/or Proxy in step 3, then there’s likely a problem with your choice of VPN. In theory, a VPN shouldn’t slow down your network, but the one you’re using might be experiencing issues right now and you may need to find a different one or just not use a VPN until the issue is resolved.

Now for the results of steps 4, 5, and 6. If your files transferred faster locally than they would over Wi-Fi, the Mesh System itself may be fine.

If your speed test showed a slower internet speed than your Mesh Systems’ theoretical maximum, then the issue is definitely your internet itself, not the Mesh.

However, if the inverse is true—that is, if your speed test returned a higher internet speed than your Mesh System’s maximum—then there’s either a problem with the Mesh System, or it’s working fine and you just didn’t purchase the Mesh System capable of giving the speeds you want.

How Much Bandwidth do Mesh Systems Use?

Mesh Systems don’t use Bandwidth, they provide it. A properly functioning Mesh System takes the internet signal from your modem and distributes it evenly throughout your home as efficiently as possible.

You should think of your Mesh System as another kind of router, or an alternative to routers. Just like a Wi-Fi router, a Mesh System spreads the bandwidth throughout your house.

Bottom line: if there’s a problem with your Mesh System, it’s not because it’s “using” your bandwidth, it’s because it’s not doing its job of distributing it properly, or it’s because there’s not much bandwidth to begin with and even the best Mesh System can only work with what you—or more accurately, your ISP—give it.

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